Zalatoris wins TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes

Zalatoris fired a 69 on Saturday to capture his first Korn Ferry Tour win. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

BERTHOUD, Colorado – Will Zalatoris closed with a final-round 3-under 69 to earn a one-stroke victory over Chase Johnson at the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes. With the win, Zalatoris captured his first Korn Ferry Tour title and moved atop the Korn Ferry Tour Points List.

“It’s been probably four years since I’ve won a golf tournament,” Zalatoris said with a relief after the final round. “It still hasn’t sunk in, that’s the part that’s kind of crazy. We’re one step closer to getting our (PGA TOUR) card so, two more (wins) to go.”

Zalatoris began the day with a one-stroke lead but fell back to 11-under for the week after an early bogey on the par-3 second. The 23-year-old rebounded with birdies on Nos. 5 and 8 to get to 13-under but credits his par save on No. 7 as the turning point in the round.

“I thought the big turnaround, for me…I hit a poor wedge shot on No. 7 and hit it over the back of the green and then hit it to about 15-feet,” he said. “I made that 15-footer for par and if I miss that and bogey from 110-yards out, that kind of ruins my day.”

After his third birdie of the day at the par-4 10th, Zalatoris reached 14-under for the week with eight holes to play.

As Zalatoris continued his back nine, Johnson ascended the leaderboard firing a career-low round. The Kent State University product carded 10 birdies on Saturday en route to a course record 9-under 63. Despite a bogey on the par-4 17th, Johnson converted his 10th birdie of the day on his final hole of the tournament and took the clubhouse lead at 14-under.

After pars on Nos. 11-15, Zalatoris entered the final stretch of holes tied with Johnson at 14-under. On the 128-yard par-3 16th, the Wake Forest product stuck his approach to 8-feet and drained the birdie putt to take the outright lead at 15-under.

“Winning requires luck and that ball was literally two inches from rolling all the way down the front of the green,” Zalatoris said of his approach on the 16th. “Taking advantage of that is what it takes to win golf tournaments.”

Zalatoris remained poised down the stretch, converting pars on Nos. 17 and 18 to take home his first professional victory.

It seemed as if it was only a matter of time before Zalatoris found the winner’s circle. Since the Korn Ferry Tour’s Return to Golf, he has been among the top 12 at the end of all 16 rounds since the season restart and has finished the last four events T6-T3-4th-1st.

“I thought the first week at Sawgrass, I thought I forced it. The last couple of weeks I was chasing pretty hard,” Zalatoris said. “These past two and a half years working with Josh Gregory and Troy Denton and just sticking to the process…It’s nice to see it finally pay off. This is my first win as a professional on any level so, it’s pretty nice.”

Johnson had only made one previous start on the Korn Ferry Tour prior to earning a spot in the field this week. Earlier this season, he made his Tour debut at The King & Bear Classic at World Golf Village after successfully open qualifying.

Last December, Johnson finished T92 at the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament’s Final Stage leaving him with conditional status for this season. After his solo-second on Saturday, he now has the opportunity to set a schedule for the rest of the year.

“That was absolutely huge,” Johnson said after his final round. “With the conditional status I had prior to the break, it was just a question mark. After the round and after this day, it’s a huge relief. I feel like I can kind of pick a schedule out and play more freely, which usually leads to better play, so I’m excited for what the future holds this year.”

Stephan Jaeger, Callum Tarren, Taylor Pendrith and Erik Barnes finished the week T3 at 13-under 275.